Invasive Species Threatens Prickly Pear

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

An invasive species of moth that eats prickly pear cactus is moving across the Gulf Coast toward Texas - and that's prompting action by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

The fear is the tan-colored cactus moth will reach Texas and its population will explode with plenty of cactus to eat. The moth's larvae eat through the plant's pads, killing it.

The moth has spread to Louisiana, and federal agricultural workers have been burning cacti near New Orleans to stop the infestation. So far, the moth hasn't been found farther West.

Prickly pear is widely used in Mexican cooking and is so important culturally, it holds a spot in the middle of the national flag. About 205,000 acres of prickly pear in Mexico produce a crop worth $160 million each year.

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